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Kingston University lecturers sign open letter to governors criticising proposals for structural change

By River Reporter Mar 19, 2013

Joe Stanley-Smith

Lecturers at Kingston University have written an open letter to the chair of the board of governors urging them to reconsider proposals which would see 265 of the most senior lecturers have to re-apply for their jobs.

Principal lecturers and readers, who are key academic and research staff, would be affected and other lecturers could see an increased workload.

Read the full letter below:

We, the undersigned, alert you to the crisis that Kingston University has been unnecessarily plunged into.

We are deeply concerned about the serious detrimental effect on staff morale and the adverse risk to the student experience precipitated by the proposed ‘Academic Promotion and Progression’ wholesale changes to the grades and responsibilities of all but senior academic staff.

We urge that the Senior Management Team and the Board of Governors immediately those elements in the proposals that would demote some core staff, let others leave, and increase the administrative workload of those remaining.

Specifically we urge that:

–          Principal Lecturers and Readers should keep their Grade 10 status and their transition to Associate Professor be managed supportively;

–          Senior Lecturers at Grade 9 should not be directed to take on significantly more management responsibilities without commensurable reward, including promotion to Grade 10 where appropriate;

–          the existing arrangement of the progression for Lecturers at Grade 8 to Senior Lecturer at Grade 9 be preserved.

The timetable of the proposed changes is compressed and unreasonably short:

–          Three months for staff to decide on whether to opt for voluntary early retirement or voluntary severance;

–          transition from one type of career to another could reasonably take two to five years rather than proposed two year maximum.

We are concerned that the scheme as it stands could damage the reputation of Kingston as an institution that values learning and teaching.

Insisting on this timetable for implementation by September 2013 runs serious risk to student delivery, especially to implementation of the revised academic framework (RAF) next academic year, into which so many staff have put so much effort, and to optimising research at the peak of the REF exercise.

We accept that the University needs to change and improve, and we consider that crucial to this is an academic body that is motivated and committed.

We request that the Senior Management Team adopt a more respectful, considerate and democratic approach to academic staff and pursue policies for the University that will build on its many strengths, most especially its positive characteristics as a diverse and inclusive institution of higher education.

We urge that the Board of Governors considers this letter as a matter of priority at its meeting on 20 March 2013.”

The letter now has 410 signatories (April 10, 2013)

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